NORTH FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
February 7, 1963
NFES Mimeo Renort 63-5
SUGGESTIONS FOR-PEACH- GROWERS IN THE NORTH FLORIDA-EXPERIMENT .
By H. ". Young, Assistant Horticulturist
Site Selection and Planting
A well-drained sandy loam or sandy clay loam soil with a well-drained
subsoil is suitable for peaches. Very steep or eroded hillsides should be
avoided. However, planting on a -slope. with good air and water drainage is
Several weeks prior to planting, the soil should be prepared and marked
to indicate tree locations. Trees may be planted to allow for cultivation both
ways, or on the contour. Although 20 feet by 20 feet is a satisfactory spacing,
25 feet by 25 feet will permit easier use of spray and cultivation equipment.
When planting on the contour, it may be desirable to have the rows-25 feet apart
and the trees about 18 feet apart in the row. Bands 6 to 8 feet wide. .in the rows
where the trees will be planted should be fumigated with-EDB or Telone for nema-
Trees about three feet in height are best for planting. Unless extra
care is taken very large or very small trees may not survive. If acquired from
a northern source, trees should be obtained in December and planted immediately
or "heeled in" (in a fumigated plot) until January. Planting of northern-grown
trees obtained in January or later may result in premature leaf bud growth which
may be killed by spring freezes resulting in tree losses.
In planting the trees, dig holes large enough to easily handle the roots.
Plant the tree at the same depth as it grew in the nursery. Usually it will not
be necessary to prune the roots; however, any dead or damaged roots should be
pruned back to healthy tissue. Add top soil until th half filled, making
certain that air pockets are not left under the ro sPE S soil and press
carefully with the feet. Water to settle the so d fill mainder of the
hole with soil. o4 0
For commercial production in this area v iiety mus p duce fruit
early and with acceptable quality and sufficient f n I 9/esm it shipment.
Such a variety should require between 600 and 650 hou mperature at or below
45 degrees (by February 15) to produce normal flowering in most years- For areas
with the same climatic conditions as Quincy, Florida, Maygold is being rec-
ommended, and the varieties Earligold (considerably earlier than Maygold) and
Junegold (larger fruited and slightly earlier than Maygold) are suggested for
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limited planting. Even with Maygold there is a possibility that after mild winters
the flowering may be abnormal.
For home garden plantings where earliness is not so important, the
varieties Sunhigh, Suwannee, Fortyniner, Saturn, Flordaqueen and Hiland may be
Usually peach varieties are budded onto a rootstock of another variety.
Although it would be advantageous to have a stock resistant to nematodes, addi-
tional testing will be necessary before recommendations can be made. It has been
found that one nematode-resistant rootstock, known as S-37, is unsuitable for
this area. At present it is suggested that nematode-resistant stocks be used
only where it is known that nematodes are a serious problem. If the land is
fumigated before planting, a common rootstock such as Elberta should be satis-
factory. However, there is always a danger, especially on the lighter soils,
that nematodes may become a problem. Cover crops, such as rye, and the use of
mulch around the trees have been reported to reduce the nematode problems.
A pH of between 5.8 and 6.0 is suitable for peach production. When lime
is needed to raise the pH,dolomitic lime should be used. Soil tests may reveal
a need for magnesium alone.
In the first growing season, about the end of February apply a pound of
8-8-8 (or 10-10-10) or its equivalent to each tree. One-quarter pound of ammo-
nium nitrate (or equivalent) will be necessary after the fruit is harvested,
but, before July 15. The fertilizer should be banded around the tree at least
six inches from the trunk, and disked or otherwise worked into the soil to pre-
vent loss from washing.
In the second and following years the spring fertilizer application
should consist of one pound of 8-8-8 (or equivalent) for each year of age of the
tree. Approximately 6 pounds per tree will be needed in a mature orchard. In
June, or after the fruit is harvested, one-quarter pound of ammonium nitrate
(or equivalent) may be applied for each year of tree age.
The preceding are normal fertilizer applications and probably meet the
minimum requirements. At the North Florida Experiment Station, fertilizer rates
twice those suggested have been used to produce increased tree growth. It is
questionable whether yields have actually been increased. Excessive fertilizer,
especially during the first year, may cause death of the young trees if rain occurs
shortly after fertilization.
Because any applications of nitrogen in the early spring will tend to
delay fruit maturity, commercial growers must consider whether they should split
their applications of 8-8-8 (or equivalent) on bearing trees by applying part
before fruit is set and the remainder after the fruit is harvested. In any case,
it should be remembered that recommendations listed here are only generally
applicable, and soil tests will be necessary for a more exact recommendation,
In addition, vegetative growth and fruit yield of the trees must be considered
before making fertilizer suggestions.
Tree Training and Pruning
Prune to a height of 30 inches at planting and remove all except the
most vigorous lateral branches. If trees are large, select three or four of the
best branches originating within a space of 12 inches on the tree trunk, with the
lowest branch about 18 inches from the ground level. The main objective of pruning
young peach trees is to develop strong well-branched frameworks. Keep the center
of the tree fairly open, leaving enough shoots toward the center and upward to
protect the tree trunk from sun-scald. Young trees need to have scaffold branches
on the main and secondary framework, therefore cutting back and thinning out of
crowded branches is necessary. In North Florida, because of the rapid vegetative
growth, it will be necessary to select these scaffold branches the first year by
pinching or cutting out undesirable shoots.
When the trees reach bearing age, pruning is done to maintain profitable
fruiting conditions. Thin out weak, unproductive wood aid thick parts and cut
back rangy branches. Upright branches should be pruned back to outward growing
laterals. It is desirable to control the height of the tree so that it is not
necessary to use ladders or climb the trees to harvest or prune. Permitting the
trees to grow taller usually produces higher yields per tree but increases the
For further information on pruning and training, consult "Peach Growing
East of the Rocky Mountains", Farmer's USDA Bulletin 2021, which is probably
available from your county agent.
Rabbits can be a serious pest problem of peach trees in the area. Usually
young trees are affected more than older trees. By girdling young trees rabbits
may actually kill an entire planting. Although the use of wire screening guards
is the only certain way of controlling rabbit damage, Arasan 42-S (A Thiram com-
pound) has been used as a repellent with considerable success. Arasan 42-S is
either brushed or sprayed on the parts to be protected.
Insect and Disease Control
Although a number of materials may be used successfully, the schedule
that is being used satisfactorily at the North Florida Experiment Station is
outlined in Table 1. This schedule will not control bacterial spot, which has
not been a serious problem with the early varieties in the station orchard.
Since this is a minimum schedule, heavy rainfall, unusually large insect infes-
tations and special disease problems may require additional sprays. Normally, if
rainfall occurs within 48 hours of application, the spray should be repeated.
Timing of the sprays is more important than the number of sprays applied. An
alternate spray schedule for home gardens is suggested in Table 2.
Parathion is a highly effective insecticide against most peach insects;
however, IT IS ALSO HIGHLY TOXIC TO HUMANS AND NOT GENERALLY RECOMMENDED UNLESS
THE USER IS PREPARED TO FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS AS GIVEN CN THE
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Table 1. Peach Spray Schedule for Commercial Plantings
NAME AND TIME OF SPRAY MATERIALS PER 100 GALLONS
Dormant Liquid lime-sulfur 6 gals.
After all leaves are off and before buds
begin to swell in late winter
Blossom Wettable sulfur (sulfur content
80% or more) 6 lbs.
Petal-Fall Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 lbs.
After all petals are off and before plus
peach is showing Parathion (15%) 2 lbs.
Shuck-Fall or First Cover Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 Ibs.
3/4 shucks off Parathion (15%) 2 lbs.
Second cover Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 lbs.
7-10 days later Parathion (15%) 2 lbs.
Four Weeks Before Harvest Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 lbs.
of each variety Parathion (15%) 2 lbs.
Two Weeks Before Harvest Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 lbs.
of each variety Parathion (15%) 2 lbs.
Pre-Harvest Wettable sulfur (80% +) 6 lbs.
One week before harvest of each variety
Trunk sprays (Drench trunk, lower branches and soil at base of tree)
July 15 DDT wettable powder 50%, 8 lbs.
August 15 DDT same as above
September 15 DDT same as above
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Peach Spray Schedule for Home Gardens
TIME OF APPLICATION OF SPRAYS
1. First spray as first peaches begin to
show (usually about a week after most
petals have fallen)
MATERIALS PER 1 GALLON WATER*
4 tablespoons of 25% malathion
wettable powder plus 3 tablespoons
of wettable sulfur or 1 1/2 tea-
spoons of 50% Captan wettable
2. 10 days after first Same as Number 1
3. 10-14 days after second Same as Number 1
4. 2 or 3 weeks before ripening Same as Number 1
5. July 1 Peach Borer Spray 8 tablespoons of 50% DDT wettable
powder per gallon of water or 2
pounds in 25 gallons.
6. August 1 Peach Borer Spray Same as Number 5.
7. September 1 Peach Borer Spray Same as Number 5.
In sprays 5, 6 and 7 apply thoroughly to trunks and lower branches of trees, being
especially careful to wet the soil at the base of the tree. Complete wetting of the
trunks and larger limbs in addition to spraying tops of trees when applying insecti-
cides will aid in the control of peach borers. Do not apply Malathion within 7 days
of harvest of peaches.
S For 25 gallons of spray use 1 pound of 25% malathion wettable powder plus 1 1/2
pounds wettable sulfur or 1/2 pound of 50% Captan wettable powder.